Okay, so this one has a rather gruesome cover with two rotting,
bandaged faces almost daring us to put the film in the player and watch.
Well, I rarely back down from a challenge (at least one like that) so
let’s get started.
And we get our credits, including the fact that it’s a “No One Cares Production” which seems kind of harsh—besides, that’s my job. And we track towards someone sitting at a writing desk, writing away while solemn piano music plays. The person’s head is kept carefully shielded from us as we get nearer and nearer…but we don’t get a shock turn-around. Instead, we see the heavily bandaged hands, then the heavily bandaged face, and the person starts narrating.
”I used to think I’d live forever,” he says. “Now, I’m not that sure.” And we see these very words on paper. He opens the curtain and looks out at a bird in a tree. And we fade to black.
Fade in on a car driving along a country highway. He continues narrating, and we see the passenger, a young woman, and the driver (our narrator). Also, some pretty forest country. The couple soon starts bickering about French fries. He didn’t order any, and now he wants some of hers. She’s mad about this. But she smiles, and says maybe she’ll share, and he says, “You know I love you, too.”
And we get some pretty cool minor key music as they continue to drive, then the sun sets, and they’re driving along a dirt road at night. The car is making ominous noises like it doesn’t like this kind of road at all. Inside the car, she looks unhappy, too, and he looks uncertain as they continue down the road.
Finally, there’s the sound of a tire blowing out, and the car comes to a halt. You might imagine this doesn’t improve anyone’s mood, though they’re more worried than upset. But they’re still upset anyway. They decide fixing it is a good idea. He says everything will be okay, they’ll be back on the road in ten minutes.
We apparently cut to some time after ten minutes, and they’re arguing. Apparently, she removed all the tools; he, on the other hand, insisted on a short cut over dirt roads. So they’re equally to blame and the mood is not improving. He lies back in the dirt, and looks at the moon, and the sounds of a thunderstorm appear in the distance. Could it get any worse? Well, yes, if you’ve seen the cover of the DVD, it can apparently get a lot worse. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…even though, to be honest, the reason most folks are going to rent this is because of the cover, right? (Shades of The Bunker.)
Anyway, he gets back in the car and apologizes for snapping, but she wants to be mad; he’s pretty smooth about “seeing smiles” and all, and soon has her won over, much to her semi-annoyance. I must admit, they make a nice, believable couple. Oh, and we know her name: Jenny.
They talk some more, warming up more to each other, until she suddenly goes rigid and asks what “that” is. We see a vague shape outside in the glow of the headlights, headlights, lying down against some trees. He says, “Kind of looks like a dead body.”
She wants him to check it out, he is against this, and they yes-and-no for a while before she says, “You might as well check it out, because I’m not going to shut up about it until you do.” He looks at her. “Anyway, what if someone needs our help?” she continues. “What if he’s still alive?”
He’s still not convinced it’s a body, but it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t want to go near it just in case it is. He offers to chuck a rock at it, and if it moves, it’s therefore a still alive being who might need help. She questions the maturity of this rock-chucking plan, but I note it’s been a good one since the days of the cavemen (when rocks were all anyone had to chuck). He finally gives in and goes to check out the shape.
As he nears it, it sure looks like a body to me. We get a close camera angle on the face, and as John (okay, I cheated and looked at the box) asks if he’s okay, the “corpse’s” eye opens and moves around. John doesn’t see this, as the “corpse” is facing away from him. He goes forward and nudges the guy with his foot, and the creature doesn’t react.
As John returns to the truck, we hear distinct zombie-gurgling noises on the soundtrack. He reports his findings to Jenny. She wants to get out of here, but he counters that he doesn’t want to get lost in the woods. He also says, “What if whatever killed that guy is out there, hiding in bushes or something?”
”You think someone killed him?” Jenny asks in alarm.
John realizes this was the wrong tack to take. “I’m not saying that, it’s just—here in the car, at least we have some protection. Besides,” he adds, “if we wait until morning, at least we can see where we’re going.” He also thinks someone might drive by, and if they’re in the woods, no one will see them.
They speculate about the dead guy, thinking perhaps a car hit him and left him. John thinks it’s gross, Jenny thinks it’s sad, but it makes her think about life, “how short it is.”
John asks what’s troubling her, and she says, “I just haven’t seen a dead body since…”
”Your father,” John says tactfully. Realizing his mistake, he kisses her fingers and says, “At least we’re not having as bad a day as that guy,” then suggests that they try to get comfortable (not in a “oo-la-la” way). So, they get out the blankets, turn off the headlights and lock the doors.
She thinks they should talk, rather than sleep; she’s obviously still creeped out. He reaches for her. “There’s a dead body outside and you’re still horny,” she says. “What’s wrong with you?”
”Well…” he says. “Now you have two stiffs.”
She can’t help but giggle, though she still thinks (in Elmer Fudd talk), “It’s scawy.”
Fade to black, then fade in as the light seems lighter. Jenny rubs the dew off the windshield, and the “corpse” is no longer nestled against the trees. She wakes John and asks him to turn on the headlights. Groggily, he obeys, and it’s confirmed: the body isn’t there any more. John is still tired, Jenny is now awake and nervous.
John reluctantly agrees to open a window and look around. He does so, and seems to see nothing. The music is all resonant percussion, quite good, with low tones added too. John’s little flashlight seems to do one heck of a job of illuminating the woods; I guess he bought one from the X-Files when that show got cancelled. He pronounces the situation okay, but she wants him to actually go outside and look around. This really has “bad idea” written all over it in permanent marker, but he agrees to do this, since he has to urinate as well.
Before he goes out, she gives him a small shovel (entrenching tool). He steps outside, and we get a camera-view underneath the truck, and more zombie noises…though they also sound like pig noises, too.
He walks off through the…rather strikingly lit woods, while some pig-zombie growler watches him behind the trees (based on the soundtrack and the hand-held camera). He turns his back to us and begins the pre-urination process.
Back in the truck, Jenny is trying to figure out the map. A very blurry POV advances on the truck, and she looks up to see John staggering back, clutching his neck. He collapses on the ground, and she gets him back into the truck while growling pig-zombie noises watch.
She applies towels to his neck wound and asks him what happened. “I think something bit me,” he says. “I hit it with the shovel, and then…” he trails off.
She looks around in alarm, then asks him where the shovel is. He left it in the bushes, so (and this seems kind of unbelievable) she’s going to go back and find it. She runs through the misty, fog-lit woods and comes across a body, or perhaps “the body.” She hesitates, then grabs the nearby shovel. With another hesitation, she smacks the thing on the head, then runs away.
We see the thing’s fingers twitch in close-up.
Back in the truck, Jenny tells John they should get out of here. John still seems woozy, so she asks what happened. “Something bit me,” he says.
Just then, a figure passes by the rear window, and a strange, chain-like zipping sound is heard. Though alarmed, both realize that the best thing to do is to leave the area, pronto. John assures Jenny he’ll be fine.
The open the doors and run out, though Jenny is grabbed by something beneath the truck. It’s a damn gross-looking thing, in a plaid shirt. She shakes it off and they dash down the road. Though the creature is shown in quick cuts, it’s damned effective looking; I’ve seen way worse paraded before the camera for way more than a split second.
Feeling they are clear of immediate danger, Jenny and John pause to consult the map. According to John, it isn’t far to the nearest town. Jenny wonders if there’s a hospital, in case she has to take him there. Turns out, there’s one not too far in the town (hospitals are, after all, shown on maps).
It sort of looks like they’ve left the main road, which I would have thought should have had a big red label, “Warning: Lark’s Vomit” but then I was not asked, and I think Jenny and John have enough troubles of their own right about now. The tender(ish) electric piano music tells us that much.
We cross-fade to the two of them still in the woods, coming across a large (apparently) abandoned house in the middle of the woods. They go inside. “I saw something move,” she says, though we didn’t see this.
”It’s just the cat,” he says. He tosses something that sounds like a bunch of keys, somewhere.
”Again with the throwing things,” she says. He doesn’t reply, and we fade to black.
Fade in on what seems to be the next morning (though we’ve been fooled before), and John and Jenny awakening. It takes quite a bit for this to happen completely. Seems like quite a nice bedroom. Jenny shakes herself awake as well. She goes to turn on the television, but there isn’t anything but snow. So they both sit on the bed.
”So now what?” Jenny asks.
”I don’t know,” John admits. Moods: she, worried, he, tired. They worry about his bite, and that he can’t afford treatment for it, but she says his health is way important, so he avers that if it gets worse he’ll seek this treatment. He asks if they should go to the police.
She points out that all they’ll find is something dead in the woods, and they might blame them for it. John asks if that means they’re all alone in this situation, and Jenny thinks this is the case. They repeat their love for each other, since it seems crucial about now. Fade to black.
Fade in as John is coughing in bed, and Jenny wants to nurse him. He says he feels cold, and asks her to check the front closet to see if there’s a first aid kit that might help. She goes off to find this, as well as some clothes. John feels his heart, and can’t feel his pulse. He’s pretty upset by this, as one imagines most would be. He tells Jenny, and she tries to find a pulse too, but she can’t find anything either.
She thinks a hospital sounds really good about now, and he’s reluctant, since if he’s “dead” they’ll, like, throw him away or something. So she’s going to find him some antibiotics and pain killers, though he wonders what good these will do, as he has no pulse.
Fade to some hospital waiting room. John is all whacked, as usual, and Jenny is all mothering. Finally a nurse appears and takes them to another waiting room. They go into this room. Because of the soft way this sequence is shot, I’m wondering if this is a dream sequence. Anyway, they wait for the doctor to appear.
After a few moments, a goofy doctor appears and asks what’s wrong, and John mentions the bit about not having a pulse. “Well, if you didn’t have a pulse, you wouldn’t be sitting in front of me, now, would you!” the Doctor cheerily acclaims.
The Doctor tries various sites with his stethescope, and admits he can’t find a heartbeat. He’s going to get someone else to confirm. John opens the door slightly and hears the various panicky orders given, and he tells Jenny that they both have to get out of here, since he is about to be turned into a lab specimen (one guesses).
Fade to black, then fade in as Heavily Bandaged John continues writing, specifically writing “Something was wrong. I knew that for sure.” Oh, really? No, O’Reilly!
Fade in some more as Jenny is sponge-bathing the now bandage-wrapped John. He notes how he didn’t want to be a lab rat anymore, and how he could feel part of himself sliding off his bones. Jenny looks very upset as John leaves the camera view.
John notes that he felt cold all the time, and he was worried about only two things: how to keep Jenny happy, and how to feed his constant hunger. He notes how he stopped telling Jenny anything like truth, a) because he no longer knew what truth was, and b) because he was afraid of what might happen to her.
At this point, he is wrapped in bandages like a mummy and clothed in a cloak like, well, like an evil person. Jenny is still unaffected, and still cares for John. But it appears she’s reaching the limits of her patience, while John is reaching the limits of his ability to feel human. Fade to black.
Fade in as John gets up in bed with a racking cough. “You have to leave,” John says. After she asks why, he says, “I’m damaged goods. You have to go.”
”No, I won’t.”
”Don’t you see—I love you too much to keep you here.”
She is still insistent on staying. She helps him to lie back down, and (somehow) pricks her finger. I think there’s a slight rumble on the soundtrack to tell us this isn’t good. She leaves to take care of the prick (the one in her finger, not John—drumroll!). John rises slightly, and sees a couple of droplets of Jenny’s blood on the blanket. He wipes it onto his fingertips, and places his fingers in his mouth.
When Jenny returns, he tells her he needs meet, not frozen, but fresh meat.
”Okay,” she says, “I’ll get you some.”
”You know what I mean,” he says, rising.
”No, I don’t know what you mean.”
”Come on, Jennifer, wake up,” he says.
”Tell me,” she insists.
”I’m changing, can’t you tell?”
”Yes, I can tell.” She’s getting miffed. “I see that you’re changing, I see that. What do you want me to do?”
”Why do you keep on doing this to me, huh?”
”I’m done arguing with you,” she says in disgust. She turns out the light and settles down to sleep. It seems bright as day outside, so I’m not sure if she’s actually going to sleep or is just mad or what. He lies back against the back of the bed, and sees a cat outside on the porch. Uh oh!
He slips out of bed, goes outside and calls the cat to him. After a couple of pats, he picks the cat up out of frame, and (from the sound) breaks its neck and (I guess) eats it. Or maybe he just hates cats. You’d think, after getting the “neck-break” sound, we might get a “devour” sound, just to clarify, you know.
He comes back into the bedroom. Jenny is awake now, watching him approach the bed. He pins her down, hand over hand, turns her face aside, and moves his face down toward her neck. She’s pretty frightened, naturally.
There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of a bite on her neck, but I’m not offering stock in the Jenny Makes it To The End Credits Club. Having, I guess, bitten her, John curls up in the corner while Jenny falls out of bed trying to crawl away. Fade to black.
Fade in, John is in the bed, Jenny isn’t around, but there are ominous chain-swinging sounds. John gets up and walks into the bathroom, where he spits a bloody tooth (I think). Also, this may be Jenny, since there are no facial bandages. But she has a hooded jacket, just like John. Okay, so Jenny takes out a necklace with a crucifix and drops it into the sink too. Maybe this is some kind of bloody tooth burial ritual.
She backs toward the door and turns out the light, then pulls the hood down from her head. She touches her face with her fingertips, apparently not really sure what she’s feeling here.
Fade, as John and Jenny are in the bed, and John pulls Jenny to him by the shoulder. “I’ve lost two more teeth,” she says, looking kind of puffy and pale about the face. “I’m dying as quickly as you are.” She pauses, then asks, “What’s happening?”
”Our bodies are decaying,” John manages to say.
”What’s going to happen to us?” she asks. He admits he doesn’t know. She wants a better answer, but he still says he doesn’t know. “I hate you,” she says. (During this scene, there is a rather distracting noise that sounds like a 16mm projector.) “I hate you,” she repeats, “I hate you for doing this to me!” Her face screws up. “You knew all along, and you did this to me, still!”
She turns away from him, though in the next shot (from the foot of the bed) she hasn’t yet. John kind of moves like, Man, I totally screwed up here.
She sits up. ”Look at me,” she says, slipping off her hood. “Look what you did to me. Goddammit, look at me!”
”What?” he says in exasperation. “What do you expect from me? What do you want me to do? I don’t know what’s happening to us, I don’t know why…you know just as much about this as I do.”
”I don’t know anything,” she says sadly.
They continue to argue, she unhappy (and angry) about what’s happening to her, he just angry. He suggests that, as she is so unhappy, maybe she should leave.
”And where am I supposed to go?” she asks. He doesn’t answer, and she mutters, “You selfish bastard.” They withdraw to their respective corners of the bed.
”We’ve never fought like this before,” he says. “What’s happening to us?” Well, you’re being overcome by a weird disease, and…oh, sorry, they weren’t asking me. “We’re turning into animals,” he says.
”That can’t happen,” she says. She thinks they should do something to prevent this, and repeats that they can’t turn into animals. She has no answers as to how to stop the process, and says that she needs “to get out of here. I need to get out of this cabin.”
They both rise from the bed, but he collapses, saying that his stomach is the source of the problem. She says they need pain medicine, and when he asks how they’re supposed to get any, she says, “We’ll have to steal it.”
Cut to them sneaking along a stretch of road, past a sign that says “Deliveries” with an arrow. They note how this won’t be easy, but she runs up to a building’s wall in preparation for going in and getting the pain medicine. I guess. Though the boxes we see as some supervisor guy walks past are for various things like “California Bell Peppers,” “Dinner Napkins” and things like that, which leads me to think this is a restaurant…unless it is a very bad restaurant, it is probably not really a good source of pain medicine. Unless you can make pain medicine from bell peppers and dinner napkins. (Maybe you can.)
Anyway, Jenny goes downstairs, and through a number of anticeptic, hospital like corridors. She even spots a male nurse going down an adjacent hallway. (This restaurant must be really bad if it has its own nursing staff.)
Jenny proceeds down the corridor, enters a storeroom, opens a trashbag, and empties a large number of drugs into said bag. Also, what looks like a whole bunch of pencils. If she can snag some crossword puzzle books, the two of them will be well set for a nice future in putrescence.
She tosses all this stuff into the bag, then runs back down the corridor and outside, where John is waiting. He asks if there were any problems and she reports that things seem to have gone well.
Okay, so I guess this is a hospital, then. Where they treat patients will bell peppers and dinner napkins…hey, that could happen in California, you never know. I hope Jenny got something better than essence of bell pepper and extract of dinner napkin for John’s bad stomach, though.
They leave, and crawl over the fence, then walk back over what looks like a dried river bed, and through a strange triangular tunnel. We cut to see the bag of drugs being spilled onto the ground, no doubt prepatory to John looking them over, and then (again no doubt) deciding they won’t work, only eating cats helps.
Jumping the gun am I? Well, it isn’t the first time. Jenny prepares a syringe. “Where’s the biggest vein?” she asks.
”I dunno,” John says. “The neck?”
She pulls his jacket down to expose his neck, and jabs the needle in. Then she does herself. Melancholic harp music plays, John places his hand on her shoulder in affection, and the music becomes choral tones. We cut to a long shot, through the triangular tunnel. Then fade to black, and fade in back (I think) at the cabin.
You know, it would sure suck if the folks who own the cabin were to show up about now. Though I think it would mostly suck for the folks.
Anyway. The two of them collapse on the bed, while John narrates how “the drugs kicked in, and allowed us to be free, to tease, to live, to feel alive even for just a moment.”
“You really think we’re dead?” Jenny asks.
”Yeah, I think so. But…still moving, so I guess…maybe we’ll never really die.”
”I dunno,” she objects.
”I mean,” he says, “how can we die? If we’re technically dead already, if we died again, wouldn’t we be undead?”
She laughs. “So there’s your long-lost sense of humor. Cause you’re so dead-on with it.”
”You think so? Cause I’m really dead tired.”
”Oh yeah? Well, you’re really killing me.”
”That’s funny, usually I’m dead last on the joke that no one laughs.”
”I’m glad you haven’t lost your sense of humor,” she says. She says that she misses the old life, where they laughed and smiled and “played around” and generally were light with one another. They hold hands, and she says that she doesn’t care, she hopes that if this thing kills them, that they can die together, as they’ve been and as they were meant to be.
The snuggle together, which must be hard when John is all mummy-wrapped. And, in fact, he finds this awkward since he feels “ugly.” She says she finds him beautiful, and tells him to close his eyes.
And we get a montage of moments from (I am guessing, due to the lack of scar tissue, etc) earlier and happier times, and John and Jenny make love, while we see only faces moving together, fingers intertwining. It’s a lovely, natural moment.
We see Jenny, in proto-ghoul form, looking down. “I awoke under the intense gaze of this beautiful girl named Jennifer. I would often wake up with her staring at me, as if I was some sort of freak. But I knew the real reason why. She loved me.” Jenny closes her eyes. “Occasionally, I would break the silence. She would always reply with abrupt answers to shut me up.”
This is, to break in continuity, a very nice sequence.
”So I learned to love this part in the morning, and enjoy the silence,” John says, as his now ghoulish self raises his hand, and brings it over to Jenny. “Remember when we could feel the sun?” he asks her.
She tells him he will just depress himself. He goes on while piano music plays, and he talks about being outside and stuff.
She wonders why she’s tired all the time, even though she spends fifteen hours a day asleep. He tries to make light of this, saying she’s just lazy. Embraced against him, she looks toward him. “This coming from the king of dawdling?” He snorts in reply.
They, again, show how much love really exists between them, no matter what. He says that as long as they’re together, nothing else matters. She agrees, and thinks they should see the sunset, even if it’s only “one last time.” Then she gets sick and runs to the toilet.
”Some days were easy, some days were hard,” he observes, as we see Jenny throw up. Uh, yeah. Sounds like you made a good call on that one, dude. “I still had trouble accepting the fact that I bit Jennifer.” He talks about how he took her most precious possession from her. (All the while, she’s still vomiting.) He talks about how he hates himself now.
He then talks, rather at length, about how hard the whole thing is on Jenny. She’s putting on layer after layer of makeup, trying to look like her old self. They embrace. Fade to black.
Next, they’re walking outside. He tells her he’s been thinking about their fate, the fact that they’re constantly hungry but can’t keep any food down, and how—and this is the first mention—they both crave human flesh. They’re resisting this urge, as well as the urge to kill things. “And the most frustrating thing is,” he says, “none of this makes any sense.” Well, you were infected by a virus that, in essence, killed you. That alone doesn’t make sense.
Next, we see them climbing up a rocky hillside. Wherever this was shot is very pretty.
Still walking along the rocky ridge, among the boulders and scrubby plants. Finally, they come to a large rock and settle themselves on it to watch the sunset or sunrise or something. Jenny confesses she’s scared and can’t stop thinking about death. She also says she feels cheated. She goes on to talk about the life they might have had together, having children, growing older with each other.
As the sun continues to set, John is philosophical. “We only have each other, we don’t have tomorrow. We only have today.” We get a shot right into the setting sun, for some reason, then back to a gorgeous sunset.
Cut to John doing pushups back in the cabin. He talks about “toward the end” how they never undressed any more as a way of hiding what they’d become. As he exercises, he says he feels alive, and she says she doesn’t want to hear that. He wants to know why, and wonders if she’s changing her “stance” on killing people. She says no, she isn’t.
Did we miss something? Is John exercising because he feels great because he killed someone? I trust the film-makers would show us this, so I’m just tossing that out as a question and not a supposition.
Anyway, she is adamant about not killing anyone, even at the cost of her own life. She says they have children, and families. He seems to think killing others is the only answer for them both, and wants to know, “What about my family?” but she says, “I don’t want to argue about this, not about this.” She says that sleeping is the only escape she has from the pain in her stomach. He covers her with a blanket and sits back, and we fade to black.
Fade in on a pair of bloody hands rinsing themselves off. “And then, there were the secrets that I kept from her,” John says in voice-over. Pan up to his face. He walks out and asks Jenny how she is. She, very weak, says she’s okay, but he says she needs to eat and wants her to eat something, anything. She agrees to eat something, but I can’t hear what she says. He says he’ll get her something. He goes to the portable phone and asks Information for the number for Jay’s Pizza.
We then see him pacing restlessly before the door, club in hand. Finally, there’s a knock at the door and the pizza guy shows up. “Don’t mind this,” John says, meaning his facial coverings and the delivery guy doesn’t seem fazed at all. John asks him to come inside, but the guy says it’s against company policy, so John goes to get the money.
John comes back with the money, pretends to drop some change but clearly pizza guys are trained not to be targets, so he crouches down and keeps his eyes on John while he grabs the coin. Then he leaves. John looks frustrated at this turn, as much as a guy swathed in bandages can look, that is.
Then there’s a knock at the door. The pizza guy forgot the receipt. He hands it over (“Please, just don’t tell my manager, he’ll freak out.” “Sure.”), then turns to sneeze, and John strikes with the bat.
The killing, done from pizza guy’s perspective, is odd. The hit from the bat sounds like an egg being cracked, and the field of vision wavers. Of course, I’ve never been killed with a bat, it may look and sound just like that. Cut to pizza guy’s feet as he is dragged inside, through a pool of his blood (he bleeds quick I guess). Fade to black.
Fade in inside the bedroom, John comes in with a bowl and feeds Jenny some pizza guy tartare. “What is this,” she asks.
”Doesn’t matter,” John says.
”What is this,” she repeats, sounding more alarmed. “Is this what I think it is?” She upends the bowl onto the floor.
”Jennifer…you have to eat.”
”No I don’t,” she says, sounding very upset. Which is completely understandable.
”You’re going to die if you don’t.”
”I don’t care!”
After a pause, he says, “I don’t want to lose you. Please don’t leave me.”
”Believe me, I don’t want to leave you,” she says. “But I can’t eat that, I won’t do it.”
”Okay,” John says, “we’ll figure out another way.”
She wants to go back to sleep, and he promises to take care of her.
“Where do you go at night?” she asks.
”Sometimes I can’t sleep, I go for a walk,” he says. He walks away, settles into a chair and puts his head on the counter. Fade to black. Fade in as John is watching some couple camping. He goes in and kills them, while, discretely, Jenny watches from a hiding place. He feeds on them, but gets spooked, and she looks on as he flees. She doesn’t look as revolted as she earlier implied she might be.
Cut to another couple, getting it on by a campfire. She’s suddenly spooked, but he’s too horny to listen to anything other than hormones and genitals. John shows up and kills the guy, but tells the girl to “Get out of here!” which she does. John kneels by the body, but senses something—Jenny, nearby and watching—and as choral music plays, he chases after her. Fade to black.
Fade in on the door to the cabin, while the choral music continues. John brings Jenny in and places her on the bed. Then he leaves, and we fade to black. Fade in as Jenny wakes up in the bed, seeing John seated at a desk.
She gets out of bed, sees some bundle of clothing on the floor, and goes through it. She finds a gun, and goes in to confront John. “Who are you?” she asks.
”It’s not my fault,” he says. “I can’t control what I do anymore.”
”I don’t know you,” she says, but he tells her that she does, that he is still the same person.
She doesn’t buy it, and wants to know where the gun she’s holding came from. “You murdered someone, didn’t you!” He doesn’t admit to such, but puts up his hand and lowers the gun. “Jennifer,” he says, then turns away from her.
”I won’t be with you,” she says, and there’s the sound of the gunshot. He turns to her, but she’s gone. He tells us, in voiceover, that this was a pretty momentous occasion in his life, and he was going to keep his mind from slipping, from now on. Fade to black.
Fade in on the pigeon on the branch, while John considers it in voice over. “Some days, I would stare at this bird, trying to read its mind. I would try and guess the worlds this little creature had seen as it made its morning flight to my window. And the bird, with its beady little eyes, would try and guess what type of animal I was….”
Cut to John, looking pretty worse for wear. “It was a silly game, in the scheme of things, I know…but it was a game that enabled me to forget my problems…if for only a few moments a day.” Nice shot of the bird. “The main problem was the feeling of isolation closing in on me.” We see a shot of john writing this all down. “Suffocating me at every turn,” he says with a bit of frustration. “It got to the point where, some nights, I would just cry myself to sleep…the consequence of time…”
We see a sports car drive up to the “deserted’ cabin, and hear a heartbeat noise on the soundtrack. John, hearing this, gets up from the writing table in alarm.
Outside, some folks (including a kid) get out of the car. “Oh, god,” John says to himself, pacing in desperation. While loud heartbeats play on the soundtrack, he runs down to the basement, and the three newbies (dad, kid and mom) go inside the house.
Oops, turns out there are four, there’s another kid. Sorry, sorry, belch, sorry. Thick dad says they’re just asking for directions, Mom is worried, and calls to the kids that they should be cautious. (All the while the heartbeat noise plays on out soundtrack.)
Mom tells Dad that they should just go, but Dad thought he heard something inside. Inside, it looks like John is handcuffing himself to something, but, um, it might not be so.
We get lots of rapid cuts as Thick Dad (who follows in the path), Mom, John and Kids do their various thing-stuff.
Stuff happens, in accordance with movie cliché land.
And John either breaks his cuffs, or thinks better of employing them, and he runs up to a door and opens it. And just sunlight comes through…no kids, no fat guys, no wife, nothing. It is like, it was all a dream! Woah!
John sits on the stoop and seems disappointed and relieved at the same time. Fade to black.
Fade in on what looks a lot like our opening scene, as John narrates some more. “So, I end this journal with these thoughts and concerns. My brain is tired and diseased, I’m not sure how longer I’ll be able to think rationally. To form thoughts and express them into words….I don’t know what I’m becoming. “ We zoom even closer to John’s wrapped zombie face, as he writes these words.
Nice guy that he is, he sees a number of Jenny’s faces in his mind. Accompanied as they are by piano music, we appreciate the sadness. Well, actually we already appreciated the sadness. We’ll miss her.
”In these final moments,” John writes, “resting in the knowledge that everything will come to an end…”
Fade as John looks over the bed he and Jenny shared to the end…there’s still a form there in the bed. Cough.
”No more casualties of life,” John says as he slides next to her. Now, without his hood, he moves to kiss her…and we pull back. “The best love stories,” John says, “always end tragically.” And we fade to black.
Fade in on John’s heavily bandaged face. “And this is how my story ends,” he says. He is watching the rain fall against a window. As tender music plays, he gets up and opens the front door. He seem surprised by the feel of the rain, while in the distance an ambulance siren gets louder and louder. John goes back inside, where it is dark. He tries to make some preparations. But the ambulance people seem to know this is not a good place to be. Being burley (and heavily armed, natch), they break down the door.
Getting no answer, the cops break in and meddle in it all. John slugs one into unconsciousness. He bends down to…feed, I guess. The other cop is still advancing
But John isn’t in a food mood I guess. He finds the other cop and pushes the gun into his neck. He tells the cop to leave. Cop knows when he’s beaten and agrees to leave. But there’s someone else armed waiting outside.
While the outside guy readies his gun, John leads First Guard into the rain, then there’s he sound of a gunshot. The camera, showing John’s view, staggers and falls against he rain swept landscape.
And we get our end credits.
Well, let me just say that Carl Lindbergh is has a real knack for characterization, dialogue, and atmosphere. He’s also good at disguising what was obviously a very low budget. Aside from the car and the cabin, there are no big locations, and aside from characters who show up to deliver a line or two, the only characters are Jenny and John. (This could almost be a two-character, one-set stage play.) So he knows not to try things that are beyond his grasp, like rampaging hordes of disease-wracked zombies overcoming the town (what town? Any town).
But (you knew there had to be a “but,” somewhere), he doesn’t seem to be able to advance his story line very well. There’s almost no forward momentum from the time John and Jenny enter the cabin until the end. With a couple of exceptions, all they do is bemoan their fate for the entire time. When John starts killing people, events proceed faster, but even here the movie is just getting more visceral, not more story-oriented.
It’s a tribute to Mr. Lindbergh’s talent that this bemoaning only made mea little impatient. Jenny and John are well-drawn characters, very much in love though still not fully comfortable in each other—not fully trusting, even at the beginning of the film. But despite their travails, they stay together and only turn on each other verbally, and then only half-heartedly.
So, as a character study, it succeeds very well. As a story, it raises a lot of questions. What the hell is this disease? Where did it come from? Who was the other victim from the beginning, and where did he get it? Were there more zombies in that early scene? This is not like, say, Cabin Fever where the disease was more of a threat, a thing to escape. This is a condition established early on; the odd thing is, it’s an intriguing disease, and the fact that it is just presented “just so” is frustrating from a viewing perspective—it sets up conditions that aren’t addressed.
The film could easily be about two people stranded on a desert island with no food and some injured other people. Those are dynamics that can be established and understood by anyone. Even the talk here about killing becomes understandable—not exactly a given, but in dire circumstances, dire actions follow. The audience can see themselves in the same situation and think, I would hope it wouldn’t come to that, but if it did….
When you throw an exotic disease into the mix, you throw the equation off balance—people (well, this person) are distracted by the odd element, and want to focus on that, but the disease here remains a MacGuffin. That was my problem: what the hell was this disease, and where did it come from, and so on. I don’t think that’s the focus Mr. Lindbergh wanted, but when you paint a very realistic landscape and put an alien spacecraft in one corner, people are going to notice that and they’re going to focus on that.
Still, ultimately, I recommend this one. It is very well acted and shot, and the talent displayed is certainly worthy of view. I’d have liked the talent to extend to other areas, but sometimes you take what you get and you enjoy that. While the Ferris wheel is not the roller coaster, it’s still an enjoyable ride and there’s no point in wishing one was the other.
I’m glad I took this ride, even though it wasn’t the one I was expecting. Mr. Lindbergh, for your next feature, keep the dialogue and the characterization, but develop the concepts as well. They’re important too, especially if you (or someone else) are using them to put on the video box. No one watched that Tom Hanks movie (um, er, Marooned? I honestly don't remember) and thought, “Man, when is he going to grow fangs and eat tourists?” No one ever watched that movie and thought, “What do the aliens want?” or “Can Tom foil the criminals’ dastardly plans?” The reason for this was simple: there weren’t any aliens, or any criminals. The story was a focus on Tom and his efforts to survive.
Much like this film, for the most part. I don’t know, maybe Mr. Lindbergh thought Tom Hanks had done the "desperation" bit too well to follow in his footsteps, so Mr. Lindbergh thought up the deadly disease. (I suppose I should point out that I haven't seen the Tom Hanks movie. So for all I know, maybe he did grow fangs and fight alien criminals. If he did, it sounds like a movie I'd like.)
Recommended. I really want to say “highly recommended” but like The Bunker, I’ve got to put my own reactions to the forefront and say, while there are elements that work superbly, there are elements that are placed front and center but never given the attention that I, the viewer, thought they needed.
There has to be a reason for those elements. They’ve got to be there, not because it’s cool, or it makes a cool poster, or what have you. They need to work in the story. You can't have me sitting there thinking, Okay, yes, they love each other, but what about that disease? Mr. Lindbergh obviously has the talent to make all these things happen, to weave the web a little tighter.
Perhaps the disease was the creation of some scientist who wanted to discover what human traits were the most enduring. This is because he has seen what humanity is doing to the Earth, and he wants to devise a human who could survive in any conceivable future scenario. And he wants to know, will such creatures be human? What human traits will remain when all biological processes are completely upended?
Of course, such an element would necessitate a few story changes. John and Jenny would have to become aware of the experiment, somehow. And I can just see that ramping the budget up a lot. There'd be stupid action scenes. Still, I think the problem could be solved.
Maybe next time, he'll ask me to help with the script. ...yeah I know, it was a silly thing to say. Oh well. I'm very sorry. [humble noises]
Ahem. Anyway. If you get the opportunity, see this. It’s that good. It approaches great.
Could have been better…like the Ferris wheel could have been more thriling. But that’s not what it is, and not what it does. Enjoy what it is, savor what it does.